It’s a common sight on Canadian roads in winter: drivers losing control of their cars, sliding off the road or colliding with one another. Immediately after the bone-jarring crunch that can result from such an incident, many people think they’re fine, but may have suffered a whiplash injury.
Whiplash occurs when the force of impact thrusts the head back and forth. Frequently the damage this can cause is not immediately obvious. For many people, it is not until the next morning that they wake to feel the pain and stiffness resulting from muscles and ligaments injured by whiplash.
Things can get worse! That stiff neck and mild to moderate pain may soon develop into serious pain, moving up to the head or down into the shoulders. In severe cases, the injury might require a visit to the emergency room or family doctor.
In the past, neck braces were the treatment of choice for this type of neck injury, but research has shown them to be ineffective. Short term rest may be appropriate, but the most successful approach is early movement and gentle exercise, combined with manual treatment – for which patients are likely to be referred to a Physiotherapist. (Note: a doctor’s referral is not required to see a Physiotherapist)
What does a Physiotherapist do to help?
After a thorough physical assessment of a patients condition, a Physiotherapist will develop a treatment plan designed specifically to reduce pain, help the body repair itself, and get the patient back to a normal level of activity as soon as possible. Treatment can include hot or cold packs, ultrasound, acupuncture, manual therapy (which includes massage, stretching, mobilization or manipulation of joints and soft-tissues), and most importantly – education regarding appropriate daily activities, and a program of specific gentle exercises for the patient to do in the clinic’s gym or at home.
People respond differently to both injury and treatment, but by monitoring progress throughout the course of treatment, a physiotherapist can help patients return to their pre-injury function at a pace that works best for them.
Strong research has also shown that starting physiotherapy treatment in the first 96 hours after sustaining an injury, will greatly improve the recovery process and prevent ongoing pain, so if you or someone you care about has sustained a whiplash neck injury, don’t delay!
Call today to book an appointment with a registered Physiotherapist. That way the road to recovery from whiplash isn’t as painful to follow as a road covered in snow and ice during a Canadian winter.